Review of “Persuasive messages: The process of influence”

We encounter persuasive messages everywhere at every moment of the day: in the newspaper in the morning, on television during lunch, at a business meeting in the afternoon, or around the dinner table with our families. Not only are we targets of other people’s attempts to persuade us, we also try to persuade other people. Being familiar with persuasion, however, does not make us experts in the art of persuasion already. There is much to learn about the process of influence, about the messages that are most likely to be effective, and about the factors that we should pay attention to. Persuasive messages: The process of influence introduces its readers to these matters. The authors of this textbook, William and Pamela Benoit, call it “a guide to successful persuasion” (xii). The authors want to offer their readers practical advice on designing persuasive messages. They have succeeded in their mission, in particular because their advice is firmly grounded in classic and current theories, and in empirical research findings.

  • Hornikx, J. (2008). Review of “Persuasive messages: The process of influence” by William Benoit and Pamela Benoit. Information Design Journal, 16 (2), 159-161. [pdf]

Comparing the actual and expected persuasiveness of evidence types

Whereas there are many publications in which argumentation quality has been defined by argumentation theorists, considerably less research attention has been paid to lay people’s considerations regarding argument quality. Considerations about strong and weak argumentation are relevant because they can be compared with actual persuasive success. Argumentation theorists’ conceptions have to some extent been shown to be compatible with actual effectiveness, but for lay people such compatibility has yet to be determined. This study experimentally investigated lay people’s expectations about the persuasiveness of anecdotal, statistical, causal, and expert evidence, and compared these expectations with the actual persuasiveness of these evidence types. Dutch and French participants (N = 174) ranked four types of evidence in terms of their expected persuasiveness for eight different claims. Both cultural groups expected statistical evidence to be the most persuasive type of evidence to other people, followed by expert, causal, and, finally, anecdotal evidence. A comparison of these rankings with the results of Hornikx and Hoeken (2007, Study 1) on the actual persuasiveness of the same evidence types reveals that people’s expectations are generally accurate: How relatively persuasive they expect evidence types to be often corresponded with their actual persuasiveness.

  • Hornikx, J. (2008). Comparing the actual and expected persuasiveness of evidence types: How good are lay people at selecting persuasive evidence? Argumentation, 22 (4), 555-569. [pdf]

“Wat voor eikel ben jij?”

De hevige reacties op de jongerencampagne “Wat voor eikel ben jij?” voorspellen niet veel goeds voor de effectiviteit ervan. Is de campagne inderdaad te duur, beschamend en normvervagend of juist goed aangepast aan jongeren? Goed beschouwd is de eikelcampagne best goed doordacht, maar wel een tikkeltje gewaagd.

  • Hornikx, J. (2006). “Wat voor eikel ben jij?”, Gewaagde, maar doordachte boodschapaanpassing aan de doelgroep. Tekstblad, 12 (2), 14-18. [pdf]

Measuring the effect of culture in experimental persuasive effects research

Studies that investigate the influence of culture on the persuasion process need methods and instruments to measure the effect of culture. As cultural studies have most frequently used values as a starting point for cross-cultural differences and similarities (see Section 2), values have also been used to measure culture. Persuasive effects research involving different cultures inherently encounters a number of methodological problems. In Section 3, I will describe these problems and some solutions, and propose the inclusion of context variables other than values as an alternative way of measuring the ef-fect of culture in experimental persuasive effects research.

  • Hornikx, J. (2006). Measuring the effect of culture in experimental persuasive effects research. In R. Crijns, & J. Thalheim (Eds.), Kooperation und Effizienz in der Unternehmenskommunikation: inner und außerbetriebliche Kommunikationsaspekte von Corporate Identity und Interkulturalität (pp. 195-204). Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag. [pdf]

Overtuiging in woord en beeld

Tekstschrijvers van persuasieve boodschappen hebben de beschikking over een arsenaal aan middelen om de lezer te overtuigen om bijvoorbeeld levensmiddelen met toegevoegde vitaminen aan te schaffen, om een beschermende houder voor zijn of haar iPod te kopen of om een handtekening te zetten onder een petitie. Schrijvers kunnen zich daarbij laten inspireren door resultaten van onderzoek naar het effect van deze middelen op de overtuigingskracht. In deze aflevering van ‘Signalementen’ wordt recent onderzoek besproken naar de effecten van tekst en beeld. Naast het onderzoek naar tekstuele kenmerken – zoals cijfermateriaal, Engelse termen en connectieven – wordt er steeds meer onderzoek gedaan naar visuele kenmerken. In een aantal studies wordt zowel ingegaan op tekst als beeld, terwijl ander onderzoek zich puur richt op visuele kenmerken.

  • Hornikx, J., & Enschot, R. van (2005). Overtuiging in woord en beeld. Tekstblad, 11 (3), 69-71. [pdf]

A review of experimental research on the relative persuasiveness

Persuasive texts in which evidence is employed to support claims are more effective than texts without evidence. Text writers may use different types of evidence, such as anecdotal, statistical, causal, and expert evidence. Over the years, a number of experimental studies have investigated the persuasive effectiveness of these evidence types. In these experiments, various definitions and operationalisations of evidence and evidence types have been used. As a consequence, there is no clear picture of which type of evidence is the most persuasive. This review analyses fourteen experiments on the relative persuasiveness of evidence types. Results show that statistical and causal evidence are more persuasive than anecdotal evidence.

  • Hornikx, J. (2005). A review of experimental research on the relative persuasiveness of anecdotal, statistical, causal, and expert evidence. Studies in Communication Sciences, 5 (1) , 205-216. [pdf]

Persuasieve technieken en vuistregels

Mensen kunnen persuasieve boodschappen, zoals fondswervingbrieven en tijdschriftadvertenties, op verschillende manieren verwerken. Ze kunnen de gegeven argumenten kritisch beoordelen, snelle beslissingsregels gebruiken of hun standpunt laten afhangen van het verwerkingsplezier dat de boodschap oproept.

  • Enschot, R., van, Hornikx, J., & Mieroop, D. van de (2004). Persuasieve technieken en vuistregels. Tekstblad, 10 (2), 62-65. [pdf]

Review of “Persuasion: theory & research”

In this second edition of Persuasion: theory & research, Daniel O’Keefe gives a state-of-the-art overview of theories and research in the field of persuasion. The author has succeeded in providing an introductory text for (under)graduate students that discusses classic and more current theoretical perspectives that have been or will be prominent for the study of persuasive effects (chapters 2-6).

  • Hornikx, J. (2003). Review of “Persuasion: theory & research (2nd edition)” by Daniel O’Keefe. Document Design, 4 (3), 284-287. [pdf]